Government needs to address ‘litany of concerns’ at Limerick hospital

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An overcrowded emergency department is a common sight at University Hospital Limerick.

A CALL has been made for immediate Government intervention to address the “litany of concerns” about the emergency department of University Hospital Limerick raised this morning by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan was reacting to the findings of a report of an unannounced inspection of the emergency department to assess preparedness for the extended St Patrick’s Bank Holiday weekend.

“The HIQA report is a damning indictment of the performance of the hospital,” he declared.

“The report assessed the emergency department’s compliance with four key standards for the National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare. It found the hospital to be partially compliant with one of the standards and non-compliant with the other three.

“The emergency department at UHL is a new purpose-built unit which opened in 2017 with 49 single treatment examination cubicles. At 11.30am on the day of inspection, there were 50 extra patients accommodated on trolleys in the department, twice as many as it was designed to hold.”

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“Perhaps one of the most worrying findings of the report was in relation to the staffing of nurses. The report found that there was an average deficit of four to eight nurses per shift in the emergency department which equates to a shortfall of 17 to 33 per cent a shift.

“The nurses and other medical professionals do a tremendous job at UHL but it is abundantly clear that they do so in the most challenging of conditions. It is simply not good enough that they face such a shortfall in staffing levels,” Deputy Quinlivan said.

“Unfortunately, the report confirms what I have been saying for years that the current set up structures and practices at UHL are not fit for purpose.

“Hospital management has been failing patients, their families, and staff for far too long. We need fundamental change, and this can only come from an immediate government intervention.

“No other Hospital in the State has been abandoned like UHL has been for years.

“The emergency department at UHL was found to be non-compliant in terms of having a service providers plan and management of the workforce to achieve safe and reliable healthcare.

“It was non-compliant regarding the dignity, privacy and autonomy of service users and non-compliant in the protection of users from the risk of harm associated with the design and delivery of healthcare service.”

“This is a near total failure that impacts citizens of Limerick and the wider Mid-West region. It is a disgrace that this level of failure exists, and it is a disgrace that this Government has allowed this to happen. Immediate action is needed now, “ Deputy Quinlivan concluded.